Lynd Ward | The First Graphic Novel
It is debatable to call God’s Man the first graphic novel. But this amazing book of woodcuts from 1929 was created from the very talented hand of American Artist Lynd Ward and is certainly one of a kind and can be called a graphic novel because it was all carved by hand in wood and then transferred to paper. This is an entire novel without a single line of dialogue or a think or speak bubble. Lynd Ward was an artist and storyteller who lived from 1905-1985.
God’s man is not overtly religious or Christian and operates on a level of symbolism to propel it’s narrative. It tells the story of a young man from the country who ventures to the big city in search of experience and artistic inspiration. “It also involves a deceptive deal he made with a man in mask, whom he finds out in the end is Death. The wood engravings are done extremely well and communicate well to the viewer on many levels.”
I owned a first edition of this book and have to say that the cheap reproductions carry none to the nuance and subtlety of the original. See if you can’t find a first edition in a library. I’ve heard that some art publishing company has reissued a high quality edition of the book that is supposed to equal the original.
Below are a few of the 139 wooden panels Ward did on “God’s Man.”